ESG and Corporate Governance

Are we making our future a tick box exercise?

Sumaya Jaffer
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Many governance experts almost always argue the point that organisations treat governance frameworks as a tick box exercise.
In this article

It is of utmost importance that organizations develop an ethics policy that is fully in line with their overall strategy so as to effectively mitigate any potential risks posed to humanity. While it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the ESG framework, this is merely a byproduct of informed planning.

To truly succeed, organizations must embrace a culture of sustainability and distinguish between ESG and Sustainability. Ultimately, the board must assume responsibility for the organization's sustainability strategy. To this end, we offer a six-step approach that can serve as a guide for the journey ahead.

Step 1 – Training

It is important that organisations empower themselves with the correct knowledge and understanding of sustainability so that they can make informed decisions about the direction that they would like to take. Organisation-wide training should form part of the change management process so that sustainability goals and initiatives are embedded into the culture of the organisation. Training should be included as part of the annual learning and development plan for employees. 

 Step 2 – Strategy formulation

 The sustainability strategy will provide the organisation with clear and focused goals. The sustainability strategy must be aligned with the overall strategy of the organisation and have the agility to be rolled down to the performance metrics of the organisation. Informed decision-making must be applied to the sustainability development goals chosen as a priority for the organisation. Facilitating strategic workshops is one of the best ways to consolidate the initiatives and obtain buy-in from the relevant stakeholders. 

Step 3 – Framework and Policies

If we think of the strategy as the brain of the body, the framework and policy become the arms and the legs. The framework will set out the conceptual structure based on the strategy, and it will be complemented through the controls set out in the policies and procedures. This part of the process is where the execution and implementation processes begin.

Step 4 – Implementation

The implementation of initiatives is the process of turning plans into actions so that the desired goals can be achieved. It is the art of getting work done. Implementation will be based on the action plans designed by executive management that are aligned with the sustainability strategy.

Step 5 – Monitoring and evaluation

The governing body and its sub-committee are responsible for the monitoring and oversight of the sustainability strategy. The design of the frameworks will provide the reporting controls put in place to report on the performance of the activities of the operational teams. The process also needs to be aligned with the risk framework of the organisation so that the governing body is agile in its approach and can allow for quick and informed decision-making. 


Step 6 - Reporting 

All the above will feed into the integrated report of the organisation. The integrated report is a platform for the organisation to share information on how it creates value in the long, medium and future term. The report will also provide information to potential investors on how the organisation performs in terms of the ESG metrics it has adopted for. 

It is fundamental that sustainability becomes an important factor in every human being’s life so that we have a fighting chance to combat the challenges facing our world. Sustainability cannot become another tick box exercise. It must become part of ethos and value system so that future generations have a good quality of life.

 For more information around sustainability and ESG, please contact us for a consult. We have collaborated with an accredited organisation from the United Nations on the Impact standards which are meant to assist you to drive sustainability within your organization.